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Monday, September 30, 2019
Mauna Kea: Harry Kim Presents Fluffy Booklet Full of Cash Offers
By Andrew Walden @ 10:05 PM :: 7229 Views :: Hawaii County , Greenmail, Higher Education, OHA

by Andrew Walden

The Maunakea protests are all about money and land.  Under the existing master lease for Maunakea, UH has it and OHA wants it.  So here are the money-related excerpts from Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim’s fluffy Maunakea plan released today and titled: “The Heart of Aloha, Maunkea, a Way Forward."

Previously supportive of the Thirty Meter Telescope, OHA in April, 2015, welshed on a $1M cash deal and switched to a neutral position.  In late 2017, OHA sued the University of Hawaii in hopes of snatching control of the master lease for the top of Mauna Kea.  OHA’s point person on the telescope protests, Kealoha Pisciotta, has publicly demanded $50M rent.  Obviously OHA’s money-motivated position sharply contrasts the ‘sacred’ rhetoric emanating from the protesters' camp.

Will Kim’s book of cash offers be enough to pull the institutional support out from under the telescope protesters camp?

Judge for yourself…

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Criticism: Observatories, while providing significant economic benefits, have paid $1 a year for their subleases under UH, prompting concern they aren’t paying their share for use of public lands.

Response: TMT is the only sublease entered into after the Legislative Audit and 2000 Master Plan, and therefore the first telescope to pay substantial lease rent. Substantial lease payments will be included in any new and renegotiated sublease agreements.

TMT sub-lease

• Sub-lease validated in 2018 following legal challenges.

• Payments start at $300,000 annually and will reach $1.08 million annually after 10 years.

• Payments benefit Office of Maunakea Management for stewardship and management, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs.


Criticism: The primary beneficiaries of astronomy have narrowly been the UH and scientists.

Response: To broaden the benefits of astronomy to the community, the observatories and Imiloa Astronomy Center have supported several programs, including the following:

Maunakea Observatories

• Several million dollars spent on education and workforce development including Journey Through the Universe, Akamai internships, AstroDays, Kama’aina Observatory Experience, and Maunakea Scholars program, which gives Hawai'i high school students access to the telescopes for observations and research. Maunakea Scholars program remains the only program of its kind in the world.

Imiloa Astronomy Center

• A Hua He Inoa: Native Hawaiian students work with astronomers and Hawaiian language experts to give Hawaiian names to astronomical discoveries. Names have been submitted and accepted by the International Astronomical Union.

Thirty Meter Telescope

• In 2014, TMT International Observatory launched the THINK Fund, which provides $1 million a year to STEM education on Hawai'i Island. Annual payments adjusted for inflation will continue for the life of the observatory.

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Our Pledges

Gov David Ige:


I will administratively restructure the management of Maunakea to include representation by the Hawaiian community and by County government, while working with the Legislature for permanent restructuring of management.

DHHL Housing Support. I commit to work with DHHL and the Legislature to seek additional resources to increase housing on DHHL lands. -- Sept. 12, 2019

DHHL Interim Director William Aila

HOUSING. We will work with Hawai'i County and other state agencies to expedite approval of DHHL subdivisions. We will provide innovative homestead opportunities, such as subsistence agricultural awards, tiny homes, and other efforts, to put beneficiaries on DHHL land.-- Sept. 12, 2019

David Lassner, President University of Hawai'i

RESTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT OF MAUNAKEA. I will work with the Governor, the Native Hawaiian community, and the Mayor to restructure a collaborative approach to stewardship of the mauna as articulated by the UH Board of Regents.

CULTURAL FACILITY. I commit to establishing a facility to celebrate and honor Hawaiian history, knowledge, culture and language, along with modern science and astronomy, on the already developed land at Hale Pohaku under guidance by the Native Hawaiian community.

CULTURAL PRACTITIONERS SITE. I commit to set aside lands at the summit, if desired, for the sole use of cultural practitioners.

CULTURE AND SCIENCE INTEGRATION. I commit to pursue broadening the cultural/educational mission at Hale Pohaku to fully integrate Hawaiian cosmology, astronomy, language and cultural knowledge into research and teaching activities of the observatories.-- Sept. 12, 2019

Ed Stone Executive Director TMT International Observatory

SUSTAINABLE ASTRONOMY. We commit to working toward this vision of Maunakea and the development of a new paradigm of sustainable astronomy on Maunakea founded on integrating culture, science, the environment and education, as demonstrated by the 10-plus-year consultation process, which included the Kahu Kü Mauna Council, Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and other community members. This led to a development plan and permit which addressed concerns about impacts on the environment and cultural and historical sites.

GOOD NEIGHBOR. We commit to continue working with the community, to being good stewards of the mountain, and good neighbors on our island home. Efforts in the past have included the THINK Fund to benefit educational programs and scholarships, and the Akamai Workforce Initiative that has placed college students in summer internships at observatories and other high-tech companies in Hawai'i.-- Sept. 12, 2019



• The harmony that can grow from acknowledging a painful history of intrusions on the First Nation of Hawai'i.

• The importance of protecting the cultural and historical significance of Maunakea.

• The necessity to build a bright future for all people in Hawai'i in the spirit of aloha.

• The potential of Hawai'i setting an international example of diversity in these challenging times.

• The unique value of Maunakea in the pursuit of knowledge about the Universe.

• The opportunity of Maunakea becoming a global beacon of hope, peace, and discovery —

The Maunakea observatories are integral members of the Hawai'i community and whole-heartedly support these pillars in your vision. Maunakea should be recognized as a place where cultural, scientific, and environmental interests don’t simply coincide, but instead support one another for Maunakea to thrive as a whole. We deeply appreciate the importance of Maunakea to a broad cross section of our community and we are thankful and privileged to study the universe from the Maunakea summit — a unique portal on the universe and our origins. -- March 28, 2019 

(Editor’s Note: This is the only ‘pledge’ statement which is not dated September 12, 2019 and original to the Harry Kim plan.  According to the text, it comes from “Letter to Mayor Harry Kim signed by all Directors of the Maunakea Observatories.”)

Harry Kim Mayor County of Hawai'i


County government commits to designating County representation in high-level decision-making relating to management of Maunakea and supporting the restructuring of the management of Maunakea.


Convene a core group of community members who believe and support the vision. The responsibilities of this group are to provide direction and guidance in bringing this vision to life. -- Sept. 12, 2019

Read … “The Heart of Aloha, Maunkea, a Way Forward."     

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UH response to Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim's 'A Way Forward Maunakea'

From UH News Sept 30, 2019

Mayor Kim's path is consistent with the Board of Regents' resolution affirming collaborative stewardship and University of Hawaiʻi commitments.

We need ideas for ways forward like these that can help shift thinking to paths in which there will be wins for all the people of Hawaiʻi—Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike.

UH stands ready to work with any and all interested in forging a peaceful way forward, whether or not they believe TMT belongs on Maunakea.

- UH President David Lassner




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